21 May 2018

Energy Made Easy is proud to support Scams Awareness Week, which runs from 21–25 May 2018. This year Scamwatch is urging all Australians to be on the lookout for threat-based impersonation scams by taking a moment to ‘Stop and check: is this for real?’.

What are these scams?

In threat-based impersonation scams, scammers pretend to be from a well-known company, like an energy retailer, or a government agency. Their aim is to scare you into parting with your money or personal information and if you don’t, they threaten to disconnect you or take you to court.

How could this be relevant to my energy bills?

Scammers are aware that people commonly receive their bills by email, and use this avenue as a way of targeting you. Scammers may pretend to be from trusted businesses, like a gas or electricity retailer. They may email you fake bills or disconnection warning notices, and threaten to cancel your service or charge you excessive penalty fees if you don’t pay immediately.

A common example of an energy scam is when a scammer sends an email with a ‘bill’ attached or a link where you can download a copy of the ‘bill’, but opening the attachment or downloading the file could infect your computer with malware.

How can I protect myself?

It is always important to consider when receiving uninvited contacts from government agencies or trusted businesses it could be a scam – whether contacted over the phone, by email, mail, in person or through social media.

Energy Made Easy won’t contact you asking for personal information or for payment to use our website service. So if you receive an uninvited email or other type of contact from us, it is most likely a scam!

Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • If you receive a bill by email and don’t usually receive your bill electronically, contact your retailer to confirm if they sent the bill. If it was them, confirm with them how you wish to receive your bill in the future.
  • Some retailers may have online accounts that you can log into and check any official correspondence sent to you. Consider checking your online account to see if your retailer has sent you any correspondence if you think you have received a suspicious email or letter.
  • In emails, look for suspicious senders' email addresses and check whether any of your personal details included in the email are incorrect, for example your account or customer number, your National Metering Identifier (NMI), Meter Installation Registration Number (MIRN) or your meter number.
  • Know that a government agency or trusted business will never ask you to pay your bill with gift or store cards, iTunes cards, wire transfers or Bitcoin.

What can I do if I think I’ve been scammed?

If you realise you’ve lost money or given your personal details to a scammer, there are steps you can take straight away to limit the damage and protect yourself from further loss:

  • If you’ve sent money or shared your banking or credit card details, contact your financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop or reverse a transaction, or close your account.
  • If you’ve given your personal information to a scammer, visit IDCARE, Australia and New Zealand’s not-for-profit national identity and cyber support service. IDCARE can work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you through the process.
  • As scammers are often based overseas, it is extremely difficult for government agencies to track them down or for law enforcement to take action against them. So take the time to warn your friends and family about these scams.

For more information about these scams, where to get help or to report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.